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fedelst

The Faceless Critic

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In the summer edition of the Queue de Cheval’s High Steaks news letter, Mr. Morentzos reiterates his offer of a bounty for the photo of the ‘Anglophone press restaurant critic’, citing his disdain for her poor journalism, and limited experience as food critic. He further takes it upon himself to list an open position for a qualified fine dining critic, with a love of the city and knowledge of the restaurant business to fill the present critic’s shoes. Clearly someone has a serious ax to grind.

At first thought, it seems that his position may be a vendetta for what can be considered a less stellar review. However, having read the whole article, it is clear that there is a deeper motive behind Mr. Morentzos’s offer? Anyone who has seen Mr. Morentzos in action will attest to his hands on management, and his unquestionable passion for his business. Clearly, he is not bashful about saying what a lot of restaurateurs and the public have been thinking that ‘The emperor is not wearing any clothes’ ... or rather, Ms. Chesterman, is a babe in the woods when it comes to reviewing restaurants.

It appears that Mr. Morentzos has taken action on behalf of the restaurant industry and the dining public, and is drawing a line in the sand and stating, ‘enough is enough’. We have all had more than our share of her reviews of Toque, and glowing comments about Le Bifteque. Her poorly researched articles are an embarrassment, and do little more than shame those that associate with her.

I for one have openly and privately questioned the accuracy of many published reviews, and have been on the receiving end of a call from Ms. Chesterman, questoning the merits of my comments or opinions on her statements. Clearly the critic does not bode well to criticism. In this case, The Queue has made a very public venue of their beef, and is getting a much larger audience than the average cocktail hour conversation questioning ‘what was she thinking’.

It is my understanding, this recent questioning of her abilities has upset her... .Wow, if I was a in her shoes, I would expect that taking flack from displeased restaurateurs would be considered part of the job. After all, it comes with the territory, that you will make enemies when you pan a restaurant. I wonder how she would have fared had she been in the situation her former male counterpart found himself in, when he was physically ejected from an establishment that did not desire his published comments?

Perhaps, there is more than merit to Mr. Morentzos action, after all, would I trust someone who is under qualified , to review my restaurant?

As one of the dining public, I applaud the Queue for taking this one to the mat. It is high time that the Anglophone press establishes standards in their fine dining column. Perhaps if the position were in fact to be open, this time it should be filled by someone who actually qualified to review fine dining establishments, is willing to make more than one visit before drafting their submission, has a thick skin, is willing to call a spade a spade, and is NOT well known to their chouchou restaurateurs.

Once there are standards established for the fine dining column, perhaps we might start taking the fine dining section seriously. I applaud Mr. Morentzos for his action, and look forward to the day we can all rely on the reviews published in the Fine Dining column.

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It's difficult for me to understand how anybody could question Lesley Chesterman's credentials as a restaurant critic. On the one hand, the notion of credentials/qualifications for the job of restaurant critic is silly. There is no degree program or agreed-upon set of qualifications. Restaurant critics are judged by what they write, not by education or professional background. On the other hand, if anybody does have the theoretical qualifications to evaluate restaurants, it's Lesley Chesterman. She attended the Institut de Tourisme et d'Hotellerie du Quebec, has worked as a professional pastry chef in Quebec and in France, and has written the books "Flavourville" and "Basic Techniques: Baking and Pastry." In addition, she has been reviewing restaurants for the Gazette for years now, and so has acquired quite an impressive range of on-the-job experience. She is better qualified as a culinary professional and critic than most any other newspaper restaurant critic that I can think of anywhere in the world.

I also know Lesley pretty well, from even before she spent several years volunteering as an eG Forums host, and have always found her to be highly informed, articulate, balanced and ethical.

In terms of flak from disgruntled restaurateurs, I think there's a difference between standard griping and challenges to a journalist's ethics. Yes, a critic of any kind needs to be psychologically equipped to deal with hostility. But when a journalist's ethics are questioned, a defense is required. And no, a journalist shouldn't just let ethical challenges slide. People who make such accusations without basis are doing more than just complaining.

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It's difficult for me to understand how anybody could question Lesley Chesterman's credentials as a restaurant critic. On the one hand, the notion of credentials/qualifications for the job of restaurant critic is silly. There is no degree program or agreed-upon set of qualifications. Restaurant critics are judged by what they write, not by education or professional background. On the other hand, if anybody does have the theoretical qualifications to evaluate restaurants, it's Lesley Chesterman. She attended the Institut de Tourisme et d'Hotellerie du Quebec, has worked as a professional pastry chef in Quebec and in France, and has written the books "Flavourville" and "Basic Techniques: Baking and Pastry." In addition, she has been reviewing restaurants for the Gazette for years now, and so has acquired quite an impressive range of on-the-job experience. She is better qualified as a culinary professional and critic than most any other newspaper restaurant critic that I can think of anywhere in the world.

I also know Lesley pretty well, from even before she spent several years volunteering as an eG Forums host, and have always found her to be highly informed, articulate, balanced and ethical.

In terms of flak from disgruntled restaurateurs, I think there's a difference between standard griping and challenges to a journalist's ethics. Yes, a critic of any kind needs to be psychologically equipped to deal with hostility. But when a journalist's ethics are questioned, a defense is required. And no, a journalist shouldn't just let ethical challenges slide. People who make such accusations without basis are doing more than just complaining.

Your perspective is appreciated. I am well aware of Ms. Chestermans credentials, and I don't question the fact that she is an accomplished author. Clearly Mr. Morentzos, has his own concerns about her abilities, and has publicly expressed these. I on the other hand come from the side of the table defined as the dining public.

I have eaten my share of restaurant meals in many fine dining establishments, and am a fairly experienced cook. My issues are on Ms. Chesterman’s repeated reviews of the same establishments and inaccurate statements. Seriously, I assure you that you cannot state with a clear conscience that you agree with all her reviews and comments. Do you really believe that Guy et Dodo is worthy of the review it received?

Does it really matter that Toque has a staff member trained by Ferran Adria? Is there much value in reading an article on Bar-B-Qing by someone quoting from a Webber bar-b-q guide who self admittedly states she knows nothing about bar-b-q?

I would like to read a well researched article by someone who knows the food they are eating. I appreciate that we are not all born with a palate, and that there are times a reviewer will be faced with the unknown. This is what research is all about. Ms Chesterman could be a great reviewer if she were to dine in the restaurant more than once (as I get the perception that she does not), Make sure that she researches the unknown before writing about it (ex. kalamansi is not a tropical fruit, it is a citrus from the Philippines), and that she possesses a passion for the topic and city she is writing about.

Instead, I am faced with articles that make me cringe.

I am not saying that there are not restaurants that deserve to be panned; I am stating that there are a lot of folks that don’t have faith in her reviews. She lets a lot of favouritism come through, and it is just too evident for anyone to take her reviews as unbiased.

As for the Queue, this is a battle she will have to deal with on her own. Does the Queue deserve 2 stars, this is her opinion. Yet, I believe that many may argue this. Perhaps Ms. Chesterman is not a big steak fan, or maybe she prefers a different type of beef, if so, I think she might actually be surprised by some of the other items on their menu. I for one was surprised one lunch when I was served an absolutely perfect piece of Halibut wrapped in vine leaves with an Avogolemeno reduction. As a critic, it is expected that she will have the ability to base her opinion across a broad range of criteria. This opinion is not only an evaluation of the kitchen, but the decor, ambience, and overall impression of the dining experience. It should also be an experience that the establishment is blind to.

We get the feeling that she is coddling those that know her well, and recognize her when she dines in their establishments. How, does this afford the dining public an unbiased review? Perhaps she might learn a few chops from Ruth Reichl and her experience when she signed on with the NY Times. Actually, she may need to adopt this technique soon if anyone claims Mr. Morentzos bounty.

See http://staff.queuedecheval.com/files/QdC_S..._finalred_2.pdf

Again, I appreciate your defending her position. I am sure she is a very nice person, and I don’t doubt the fact that she could be a great critic.


Edited by fedelst (log)

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I think many people give Lesley too much of a hard time. Credentials aside, a critic’s job is a difficult one. I know I couldn’t sleep at night having to give one or two or three or no stars to a restaurant that you know has a team of hard working people behind, especially knowing how many details make the restaurant experience an ephemeral one. There’s also the inherent struggle in rating restaurants of all kinds - you have to make it all fit when you’re reviewing high end places, bistros and everything in between. And then you have to deal with the backlash. It would be much more stress-free to be anonymous à la Ruth Reichl; it is much harder to be yourself, to be forced to be transparent, to answer for your calls in a small city.

You speak of her being biased. Any human being is. I don’t know her, but I feel that she does make an effort. The Toque review to me was a surprise. At the same time, she doesn’t pretend to be above it all, she lets her personality come through. She’s opinionated but human. So sometimes, you can tell she liked this or that because of who she is. You know who her favourites are, and what ticks her off. Then again, she admits to not knowing anything about barbeque instead of acting like she knows it all.

Even if I don’t always agree with her, I think she does a good job, showing a balance of professional experience and common diner experience. She isn’t that critic who is a journalist first, who could often learn much more about food, nor is she a stalwart food industry person who is out of touch with the average person – she is somewhere in between, and closer to the consumer. She’s not perfect, but my bet is that she serves the the average diner well with her reviews. Although I do love/ hate the stars.

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I think many people give Lesley too much of a hard time.  Credentials aside, a critic’s job is a difficult one.  I know I couldn’t sleep at night having to give one or two or three or no stars to a restaurant that you know has a team of hard working people behind, especially knowing how many details make the restaurant experience an ephemeral one.  There’s also the inherent struggle in rating restaurants of all kinds - you have to make it all fit when you’re reviewing high end places, bistros and everything in between.  And then you have to deal with the backlash.  It would be much more stress-free to be anonymous à la Ruth Reichl; it is much harder to be yourself, to be forced to be transparent, to answer for your calls in a small city.

You speak of her being biased.  Any human being is.  I don’t know her, but I feel that she does make an effort.  The Toque review to me was a surprise.  At the same time, she doesn’t pretend to be above it all, she lets her personality come through.  She’s opinionated but human.  So sometimes, you can tell she liked this or that because of who she is. You know who her favourites are, and what ticks her off.  Then again, she admits to not knowing anything about barbeque instead of acting like she knows it all. 

Even if I don’t always agree with her, I think she does a good job, showing a balance of professional experience and common diner experience.  She isn’t that critic who is a journalist first, who could often learn much more about food, nor is she a stalwart food industry person who is out of touch with  the average person – she is somewhere in between, and closer to the consumer.  She’s not perfect, but my bet is that she serves the the average diner well with her reviews.  Although I do love/ hate the stars.

True, it is a tough job, but you can't be a critic, if you don't have a deep understanding of the operation of a restaurant. Likewise, you need cojones. There are times you will have to make a decision over whether you should publish a bad review, despite having given the joint a fair try, or if you hold off because you 'know' that the talent is capable, and deserves one more try. Then again, there are well respected restaurants that hold their success due to image, and couldn't prepare a truly decent meal to save their life, and truly deserve that one star (or less).

True, she does takes a position where she does not try to be 'above it all' and admits her limitations, but if we are looking to these columns for news, guidance and commentary, would you not want the the journalist writing the article to have at least made the attempt to research the topic that they are writing about. I would presume that if someone were to take on the project of writing a commentary on making pulled pork, maybe I would invest the hour and head over to either Mesquite, ot BowFinger to chat with the owners about 'the spirit behind southern Bar-B-Que'. Don't you feel that taking this type of effort holds much more value than the 'it says in my weber cook book that ...', and 'I followed the recipe and, as sure as night turns to day, I had made yummy food'.... Well.. most of us can crack a cook book, and I will bet you 17 out of 20 times, that recipe might just happen to work. We do not need a journalist to point this out.

As for her professional vs. the common diner experience, my concern is more her professionalism, and her ability to write an unbiased review. It is clear that she relies on a support group who aided her in getting to where she is today, and the price she paid for this guidance is by making no secret of her favoritism of those who have aided her ‘in the field’ education.

It is true that there is no degree program on restaurant review, and understand that until you got your chops, you will have to ‘fake it, until you can make it’, but at some point you have to take the training wheels off, and show that you can ride by yourself. Well, the training wheels should have been taken off some time ago, and if she still needs the comfort of some back up, she should do so without blatant favoritism. She owes it to her credibility and her audience. Short of this objectivity, she will never define herself as an unbiased critic, with the ability to effectively write a valued critique.

I am not sure that she can undo what she has already done, but my issue is that we need responsible journalism that does the Fine Dining column justice, and makes it plausible and worthy of reading. Unlike, the way the column is presently viewed by most who are trying to guess whether what is being reported hold merit.


Edited by fedelst (log)

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I think it helps to talk about specifics, and the specific examples cited here just don't seem to resonate, especially if you look at the underlying material. For example, fedelst, you wrote:

Is there much value in reading an article on Bar-B-Qing by someone quoting from a Webber bar-b-q guide who self admittedly states she knows nothing about bar-b-q?

I would presume that if someone were to take on the project of writing a commentary on making pulled pork, maybe I would invest the hour and head over to either Mesquite, ot BowFinger to chat with the owners about 'the spirit behind southern Bar-B-Que'. Don't you feel that taking this type of effort holds much more value than the 'it says in my weber cook book that ...', and 'I followed the recipe and, as sure as night turns to day, I had made yummy food'.... Well.. most of us can crack a cook book, and I will bet you 17 out of 20 times, that recipe might just happen to work. We do not need a journalist to point this out.

The first thing one feels compelled to note here is that Lesley's short piece on cooking barbecue was not a restaurant review. It was a cooking piece, and a very short one at that: basically a recipe with an introduction. The target audience for the piece was, it seems to me, people who may not even know what barbecue means in barbecue country. So she writes from the perspective of someone discovering barbecue: she talks to a butcher to learn that "butt" means "shoulder," she builds a two-zone fire, she provides the appropriate information for this sort of piece. It's here if anybody wants to read it. I think one would already need to have a pretty serious axe to grind in order to take offense at this utterly harmless piece of recipe writing.

I also don't understand why this is a problem:

Does it really matter that Toque has a staff member trained by Ferran Adria?

What Lesley wrote was:

Laprise is no longer the only decision-maker in his kitchen. A year ago, Laprise took a small step back and named his first "chef de cuisine," Charles-Antoine CrIte, a 28-year-old Quebecer with a myriad of impressive work experiences, including stages at two of the world's top restaurants, El Bulli in Barcelona and Tetsuya's in Sydney. CrIte has helped Laprise incorporate new textures and flavours into the modern French-Canadian cuisine started back at Citrus all those years ago.

It seems self-evident that this information should matter to anybody who would bother to read a restaurant review of Toque! in the first place. We're not talking about a busboy, we're talking about the chef de cuisine. So yes, it matters.

Do you really believe that Guy et Dodo is worthy of the review it received?

Yes, I believe it, because Lesley makes the case for it. She even responded to your eG Forums posts on the subject in May.

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I don't know Lesley Chesterman personally and haven't dined at QdC, but I have, just now, read the intemperate rant in the restaurant's newsletter.

It's incredibly silly.

First, the author claims that LC has enormous influence over the fate of Montreal restaurants, and even the city itself -- that she "impounds the future of our city with the power of her pen." Uh, really? Just because she's the Gazette's fine-dining critic? These people know that the Gazette is the city's third or fourth most widely read newspaper, right? And that if Gazette readership alone is what makes or breaks your restaurant, you're in deep trouble, right? And that there are two anglo weeklies that are also pretty widely read and that occasionally review fine dining establishments? (Though not QdC so far, AFAIK.)

But then instead of providing examples of LC's supposed omnipotence, we are told about two restaurants that closed some time after she raved about them (one of which, at least, did not close because it was unsuccessful), and there is a suggestion that unspecified Italian restaurants lost business because she stated a preference for homemade pasta. Are they serious? Although there's obviously a large dollop of sarcasm here, I do believe they are serious...and seriously out to lunch. If you want to be indignant about the excessive power of the critic, at least tell us about some specific places that have, arguably, suffered from her barbs. The "arguably" is totally -- and I mean totally -- absent here.

Finally, the suggestion that LC doesn't love Montreal is just ridiculous. Anyone who has read her posts online knows she's a major booster. The newsletter rant seems to be saying a critic's duty is to support the entrepreneur who takes a ballsy risk and makes it pay off. In effect, that the Q deserves 4 stars because they went big, and did well, at a time and in a place when doing so was a huge risk. That is nothing less than preposterous. Part of your risk includes the risk of slings and arrows. Suck it up.

While it's true that a critic needs to be thick-skinned and be prepared for angry reactions, aren't recipients of criticism well advised to exhibit similar qualities? If there's inaccuracy, make sure it's corrected, by all means. But when we're talking about matters of taste, isn't letting it slide the honourable, albeit difficult, thing to do? A campaign to unmask and/or force the dismissal or resignation of a critic seems petty, childish and unprofessional in the extreme.

This piece oozes an attitude that I just do not want in the room when I sit down to eat. These people seem to believe "we have nothing more to learn, if anything is not to your liking there is something wrong with YOU." That kind of attitude does not bode well when I am about to drop a large number of hard-earned dollars on a meal.

Perhaps the restaurant should be more concerned by the faceless members of the dining public who have given more than a few lukewarm reports on sites such as Chowhound. I suspect that kind of feedback has a much more immediate impact on people's dining decisions than do write-ups in newspapers. It's called word of mouth, and it's not all good when it comes to QdC. This laughable newsletter does not help. Au contraire...


Edited by Mr. Fagioli (log)

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As one of the dining public, I applaud the Queue for taking this one to the mat. It is high time that the Anglophone press establishes standards in their fine dining column.

I find this comment to be quite telling. Anglo, Francao, Cino .... does it really matter?

A.

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My son and friends are congregating in Montreal in a couple of weeks for his 25th birthday. Hints of a Queue de Cheval all out meat feast has been loudly dropped. Bankaccount has been padded and checked. We're set!

Guess what - NO DICE MR M. You are Off the list PERMANENTLY. BLACKLISTED.

Don't know the Critic, don't read The Gazette. Other than from this forum. ANd my copy of "Flavourville".. Enough for me. MR M. needs to seriously dissapear. IF he puts BOUNTY on a critics picture, threatening her job and the process - thats DISHONORABLE, don't need lenghty defenses of her, don't need a lot of erudiation.

Erase, delete move on. Blip!

And it's a high end, business STEAKHOUSE, pueleese... yawwn..... disappear be gone and there won't even be a flutter in MY Montreal resto scene.

ANd we'll go to Moishe's as usual.

By MR M. Burp...

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My son and friends are congregating in Montreal in a  couple of weeks for his 25th birthday. Hints of a Queue de Cheval all out meat feast has been loudly dropped. Bankaccount has been padded and checked. We're set!

Guess what - NO DICE MR  M. You are Off the list PERMANENTLY. BLACKLISTED.

Don't know the Critic, don't read The Gazette. Other than from this forum. ANd my copy of "Flavourville"..  Enough for me.  MR M. needs to seriously dissapear. IF he puts BOUNTY on a critics picture, threatening her job and the process - thats DISHONORABLE, don't need lenghty defenses of her, don't need a lot of erudiation.

Erase, delete move on. Blip!

And it's a high end, business STEAKHOUSE, pueleese...  yawwn..... disappear be gone and there won't even be a flutter in MY Montreal resto scene.

ANd we'll go to Moishe's as usual.

By MR M.  Burp...

Don't know the critic? Don't read the Gazette? Strange, your past posts to LC clearly indicate commentary on her articles. You even ask about how to access them on line and ask for a link due to your difficulty navigating the Gazette Site!!???! Actually, it seems you do know the critic and have had many interactions with her on a number of eGullet forums.

I don't know the last time the owner of a restaurant was a big concern to me. I go for the food, not the name on the title. It is clear that your posting was submitted to attempt to cause Mr. Morentzos remorse about his opinion of the critic. Please reference his comments on opinions in the news letter. I seem to agree..... everyone has got one.

Just for the record. I have nothing to do with the Queue and certainly would not call myself a frequent or regular diner there. What I will say is that compared with other fine steakhouses it ranks up there in atmosphere, quality and service. Granted, it is an environment enjoyed by many, but it certainly is not everyones cup of tea. Perhaps Mr. M's opinion of the critic put you off, but this does not have any effect on the dining experience. In fact, I challenge you to name the owners of most of the restaurants you have dined in, or know their opinion of the local Anglo critic. Maybe they hold her in disdain, perhaps they are known to them and are her friends... Would this impact your dining experience?

The only thing Mr. Morentzos did was call it as he sees it, and make it known.

Clearly, exposing your son to the action of the Queue might be a bit much for him, I am sure that Moishes will be a more calm environment for his 25th. And I am certain that the Queue will not have his seat empty that night.

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The only thing Mr. Morentzos did was call it as he sees it, and make it known.

Well, no - that's not what he did. Per your own post,

In the summer edition of the Queue de Cheval’s High Steaks news letter, Mr. Morentzos reiterates his offer of a bounty for the photo of the ‘Anglophone press restaurant critic’, citing his disdain for her poor journalism, and limited experience as food critic.

There have been a few of Lesley's reviews where my reactions have been "what were you thinking?" and I have no problem with Mr. Morentzos using his newsletter as his soapbox to express his own opinions (you know, that free speech thing).

I do however take issue with "offering a bounty" as there is an implied threat associated with this action. And from re-reading your post, my impression is that you tacitly approve (you're welcome to correct me on that too).

I think that as a restauranteur, Mr. Morentzos can go ahead an rail away at having received a poor review, but he may want to also look at some of the points brought up to see for himself if there is any justification to the criticism.

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Ok, fedelst, I took your word that this guy was offering a bounty for her picture. IF that is true he crossed a big divide. He can rant and rave and counter her critics and writing all he wants. And if he can nail her for proven inaccuracies, go for it. And any professional critic would not hesitate to publish a retraction of a mistake.... it can happen. So he has plenty of recourses. If he'd stayed above the gutter.

But he can't threathen her exposure. How she works is up to HER and the Gazette. Otherwise the whole concept of the anonymous critic falls apart - can't exist. It's really unbelievable that someone would try that. Off the charts. So if it's true, he should be denied all business, he'll certainly be denied mine. I hope the Gazette refuse to publish any reviews of his restos and any of his ads. Just turn off the light on this guy.

And yes, I Like "Flavourville" and like Leslies contributions here. Occasionally try to find one of her reviews. Do not regularly read Gazette. She does not need my defenses. Do not know her personally at all.

I just don't care for this guys threats.

Don't worry... my son won't have any problems finding "action".....unfortunately.

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What's the point of this topic? To attack the critic? To attack anonymous food critics? Eating food is very subjective and trying to criticise somthing so subjective is difficult.

Are other critics always on the same page as you (movies, theatre, wine)? If you take umbrage with the fine dining section of the gazoo, a letter to the section editor would suffice. If I correctly recall, the current critic is a freelancer with a meagre stipend. You cannot hope to compare that with the NYT. Ever read the fine dining section of the NYP? Even that paper has a sizeable fine dining budget compared with the gazette.

Its laughable that one declares bias when their argument is based on a biased diatribe. If you're unhappy with the state of resto reviews in Montreal, don't hide behind an involved party then declare yourself neutral.

The only value one gets from criticism is when its constructive so one can build on it.

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What's the point of this topic?  To attack the critic?  To attack anonymous food critics?  Eating food is very subjective and trying to criticise somthing so subjective is difficult.

Are other critics always on the same page as you (movies, theatre, wine)?  If you take umbrage with the fine dining section of the gazoo, a letter to the section editor would suffice.  If I correctly recall, the current critic is a freelancer with a meagre stipend. You cannot hope to compare that with the NYT.  Ever read the fine dining section of the NYP?  Even that paper has a sizeable fine dining budget compared with the gazette.

Its laughable that one declares bias when their argument is based on a biased diatribe.  If you're unhappy with the state of resto reviews in Montreal, don't hide behind an involved party then declare yourself neutral. 

The only value one gets from criticism is when its constructive so one can build on it.

Believe me, constructive criticism has been tried by many. It seems that despite the effort, it is ineffective.

As for letters to the editor, this seems to be a black hole, and equally ineffective.

Been there and done that.

I am not unhappy with the restos in MTL, I am tired of the critics presentation of them. This is why I prefer reading the La Presse reviews. They are definitely a better example of journalistic criticism. It really boils my blood to read reviews that have statements that lack merit, are at times poorly researched, and are presented from a voice of authority, where the authority has not been proven or earned.

I am certain that there are many critics that have had to 'fake it until they make it' and have done so successfully by avoiding presenting opinions from the point of authority, until they have developed their reputation and credibility. And, I am certain that many readers were none the wiser for it, as the facts presented in the articles were properly researched, and statements maintained accuracy that even the most critical reader would find acceptable.

One could say, if you don't like the way the column is written, stop reading it. The fact is, I have stopped reading it for months at a time. Yet, why should this be the case when the critic could either change her evil ways, or step aside for someone who can do a better job. There is nothing more I would like to see than the present critic churn out work in line with the writing quality found in 'the Art of Eating' (which she has been published in). I believe she is a very capable journalist that could be a great critic.

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Could this be sour grapes? I’ve eaten many times at Queue de Cheval on business and was disappointed everytime. Sure the restaurant is popular with some, but it is hardly my first choice.

While I don’t agree with much of what Ms. Chesterman writes, there is still a level of impartiality that does come through. If anything, she is not harsh enough.

While I agree that she does seem to have her favorites, I find it perplexing that some would find Queue de Cheval above average.

One wonders if the article is trying to criticize Ms. Chesterman or somehow try to elevate its perceived restaurant standing.

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I've always thought of the Queue as a place for people with more money than sense. The wine list is criminally over-priced. The food is what I would expect of a luxury steak house, not very different from Morton's or Spark's or scores of other such places in the States. If it were to disappear from the Montreal dining scene tomorrow, I don't think I'd notice or care. There are far too many other interesting places to eat in Montreal to bother about it. I share ArtistSeries suspicions that Mr. M's "article" was, like his expensive ad in the Montreal issue of Gourmet, a bit of puffery to make his place seem more important than it really is.

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I've always thought of the Queue as a place for people with more money than sense. The wine list is criminally over-priced. The food is what I would expect of a luxury steak house, not very different from Morton's or Spark's or scores of other such places in the States. If it were to disappear from the Montreal dining scene tomorrow, I don't think I'd notice or care. There are far too many other interesting places to eat in Montreal to bother about it. I share ArtistSeries suspicions that Mr. M's "article" was, like his expensive ad in the Montreal issue of Gourmet, a bit of puffery to make his place seem more important than it really is.

Um yes. Queue de Cheval is known as a bit of a poseur-ish, show-offy place for those who like to light their Cuban cigars with 100$ bills. And again, the money comes out for this "bounty", so-called. Could it be that Mr. Morentzos is upset he can't buy a good review...

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For what it's worth, QdC made Forbes list of ten most expensive restaurants in the world for 2007.


Edited by rcianci (log)

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Hmm...I wonder if he'd cough up the money if I sent him a picture of myself.

I mean, talk about an easy way of making a few bucks...

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How would he even be able to confirm it? This topic still reeks upon revisit.

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Hmm...I wonder if he'd cough up the money if I sent him a picture of myself.

I mean, talk about an easy way of making a few bucks...

Might depend on how.... uhmmm private it is.... :wink:

I much prefer critics to remain anon...

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For what it's worth, QdC made Forbes list of ten most expensive restaurants in the world for 2007.

Just goes to prove the old adage about suckers....


Edited by ArtistSeries (log)

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i am soo relieved that the majority of us seem to have come down on the side of the resto critic. Mr. Morentzo's actions were bully-ish, rude and uncalled-for, and crass. you don't buy a good reputation, you earn it.

and yes, maxanon, this topic smells bad, but i have to pop in every few weeks and make sure the Big Steak House Bullies aren't getting the upper hand. :hmmm:

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For what it's worth, QdC made Forbes list of ten most expensive restaurants in the world for 2007.

Correction... The list was published in 2007, but is titled "World's Most Expensive Restaurants 2006". However, this list features restaurants serving meals priced from $368 - $62 for a meal for one???? This makes no sense, as Without having the experience of Zagat, I could easily name 10 far more pricey seats around the world. The fact that each restaurant listed also includes a number for reservations, makes me suspect this is more marketing than factual content.

Come to think of it, I spent more at Gibson's in Chicago, and Charley Trotters in Vegas on a steak dinner than the Queue. For a steak house, the Queue's prices are in line with the industry. Considering that there is a market for what Mr. M is serving, I believe he successfully created a business to meet a market need. And, it is not geared towards everybody.

If you go to the Queue and complain about prices, perhaps you should not have gone to the Queue. As it seems we are quoting old adages perhaps 'if you have to ask the price, you probably can't afford it' might be fitting. If your perspective is that 'there is a sucker born every minute' then clearly, the whole concept of dining out must be considered as a challenge, as it must pain you to pay more for anything you could prepare for yourself at home at cost.

When dining out, you are paying for the experience, this includes everything from the decor and ambiance, to the food, to the feeling you have from the beginning through to the end of the meal. As an example, look at any of the feature restaurants in Vegas, and ask why people flock to these places, when so many other less expensive options exist? Yes, the food may be good, but it is clear from their investment in the restaurant that the ambiance and decor, as well as the location and the celebrity chef name score highly in contributing to the experience.

Many years ago at a presentation in the western part of the US, just before a break in the event, a list of benefactors was being announced to the audience listing some very generous sponsors. All were greeted with applause, until they reached Bill Gates, who was heartily booed by the audience. A bit surprised, I asked a number of folks at the event why they would boo Mr. Gates for sponsoring this event. I got a variety of replies, and ultimately and inadvertently formed a large group of folks standing around during the break pondering the reaction. In the end, we, to our own surprise, determined that perhaps the actual reason for the boo's was out of envy than disdain.

As with Mr. M and the Queue, love him or hate him, he and his team have built a successful presence in the Montreal restaurant scene. You may not wish to dine there, and it may not be your cup of tea, but respect it for what it is. It is a successful steak house that caters to a client base who appreciates the experience.


Edited by fedelst (log)

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Hmm...I wonder if he'd cough up the money if I sent him a picture of myself.

I mean, talk about an easy way of making a few bucks...

A bit late, I believe the bounty has been claimed.

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